Biology Department 1960s Scholar Lecture

Friday, October 25, 2013 at 1:10pm

Thompson Biology, 112 59 Lab Campus Dr, Williamstown, MA 01267

Biology Department 1960s Scholar Lecture

Dr. Rebecca Nelson, Cornell University

"Understanding disease resistance in maize:  genetic architecture, QTL and pleiotropic effects"
It is important to protect crops from the many pathogens that attack them.  Breeding resistant varieties is probably the most effective single approach to disease management.  The Nelson lab works on the genetic analysis of disease resistance in maize, with the aim of contributing to sustainable disease management.   Many loci in the maize genome have been identified that contribute to reducing disease severity.  We have proposed that quantitative disease resistance is based on diverse mechanisms, presumably involving genes involved in avoidance, perception, signaling and response.  Because genes involved in development, morphology, signaling and defense may entail physiological costs and trade-offs, this raises the possibility that disease resistance is associated with other, potentially undesirable, traits.  Pleiotropic effects of interest would include those resistant traits that affect crop yields; those cases in which resistance to one disease is associated with resistance or susceptibility to another; and cases in which resistance is associated with a phenotype that sheds light on the underlying mechanism of resistance.  Recent findings pertaining to the issue of multiple disease resistance and pleiotropy with respect to quantitative resistance to maize will be presented.  Evidence includes correlation analyses in segregating populations, fine mapping of selected QTL, association mapping for multiple traits, and analysis of mutants at candidate gene loci.

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